The Synoptic Interpretation of Historical Weather Charts

Spatial representation of weather information obtained from documentary data, May 1698. This month of May is among the coldest in the last 500 years. Source: Pfister et al. 1994: 363.

Likewise, the interpretation of historical weather charts turned out to be even more demanding and time-consuming than expected.

Therefore, a group of climatologists lead by Heinz Wanner convened again at the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen in May, 1993. Wanner had been enthusiastic about the new method of a synoptic (comparative) interpretation of historical weather charts since the conference in Bern. During a week of intensive and fruitful co-operation they succeeded to create 200 monthly maps and to interpret them synoptically (Wanner et al. 1994).

Wanner et al. 1994: 416.

Prof. Dr. Heinz Wanner, a professor of climatology in Bern, would later become a leading researcher in this field. His PhD Jürg Luterbacher, who today teaches climatology in Giessen (Germany), developed a worldwide accepted statistical approach to spatially reconstructing temperature, air pressure and precipitation on the basis of data out of archives of nature and society (e.g. Luterbacher et al. 2002).